Thursday, May 20, 2010

Medicating your ferret

So, bad news: your ferret is sick and you have to give them some medication. Now what? How on earth do you get these stubborn, wiggly, little animals to take their medicine? Turns out, there are tricks to help you get the meds down their throats, and help them get better!

Tips for liquid medication
  • The easiest method is to scruff the ferret and squirt the medication down their throats when they yawn.
  • If your ferret is particularly stubborn, he or she may refuse to yawn. If this happens, then scruff you ferret and gently separate their lips with the syringe near their back teeth. You will notice that there are a few small gaps between the top and bottom teeth in this area. Slowly begin squishing the liquid into the gap. The ferret will inevitably gag (eww- its tastes gross) and this will give you your in - you now have an open mouth and can get more medication down their throat.
  • Be prepared - often ferrets do not like the taste of their medicine and will do their best to spit it out all over you. You would be amazed at the range that they can get. To prevent some spit up, I often hold the syringe in the mouth for a few seconds after giving the ferret the last of the medication. This can prevent your ferret from spitting all the medication that you have just given them back out.
  • Some ferrets will take liquid medicine on their own without a fight. This is not common, however, such behaviour can be encouraged by mixing the medication (depending on the animal's problem and the type of medication) with a small amount of berry flavoured gatorade or juice. Be sure to consult with your vet before attempting to use this approach.

Tips for pills - yes it is possible to give your ferret pills!!!
  • once the pills are cut to the appropriate size (dosage), wet a spoon. Crush the pill with the back of another spoon (the crushed pill powder will stick to the wet spoon) and add ferretone to the pill powder. Mix the ferretone and powder and give to your ferret. If he or she loves ferretone, he or she will most likely think that you are giving them a treat and not notice the medication. If your ferret does not like ferretone, the crushed pill technique can also be applied to duck soup, cream, and any other liquid treat that your ferret loves. Be sure that the animal eats every last drop of their 'treat' if you use this method.
  • Some medications are only available in pill form and are too bitter to mask using ferretone or similar treats. These pills should be crushed into a fine powder, mixed with a bit of water (or juice to sweeten - again, consult your vet before mixing medication with anything) and given in the same manner that one would give liquid medication.